Grapefruits are a citrus fruit related to oranges and are known for their tangy flavor. The ancestor of grapefruit likely originated in Asia. In the early 1700s, the fruit was imported to Jamaica where hybrids were produced that resembled modern grapefruit. The first known reference to grapefruit in botanical literature appears in Griffith Hughes’ 1750 text, The Natural History of Barbados. He called the grapefruit “the forbidden fruit,” the grapefruit’s original name. Grapefruit reached the US in 1823 when they were introduced to Florida. Ruby Red is the most commercially successful variety of grapefruits and it is typically quite tart with a hint of sweetness, whereas some varieties of grapefruit can potentially taste sweeter. Ruby Red grapefruits have deep red flesh with rich orange skin. Other varieties of grapefruit can range in color from white to red, and shades of pink.
Raw grapefruit is a classic accompaniment to a healthy breakfast. When raw, grapefruit has a very tart flavor that can work quite well in cocktails. Gimlets and margaritas can be modified by adding grapefruit juice in place of lime juice. The tartness can be reduced by cooking, which brings out the sweetness of the fruit. Broiling grapefruit can be a quick and easy desert. Simply top a halved grapefruit with cinnamon and fine sugar and place under the broiler until the grapefruit’s flesh become puffy and the sugar is caramelized. Fresh grapefruit juice can add some zing to cakes, tarts, pies, and ice creams. Tossed salads and grain salads can be elevated with some fresh grapefruit.
Look for grapefruits that are firm but not rock-hard. They should feel heavy for their size due to their water content. If a grapefruit feels light, it is no longer fresh. Check grapefruits for deep blemishes. Always wash fresh grapefruits before using them; any contaminants on the rind can be transferred to the flesh when the grapefruit is cut. Grapefruit can be stored at room temperature for about a week, or they can be refrigerated for up to three weeks.